In the third episode of the "Climate, Capitalism, and Culture" podcast series from GMU Cultural Studies, Tauheeda Yasin talks with Merlin Chowkwanyun, the Donald H. Gemeson Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health about his work creating the archive "Toxic Docs." "Toxic Docs" makes documents provided during the discovery process in environmental lawsuits concerning pollution searchable. As it turns out, many of the same techniques used to generate doubt about climate change were previously used by companies seeking to hide the harms of lead, asbestos, and the manufacture of PVC. They also talk about Dr. Chowkwanyun's upcoming book, which uses cases studies to explore the on-the-ground histories of public health and pollution in Los Angeles, Cleveland, Central Appalachia, and New York.
This podcast series is associated with George Mason University Cultural Studies' Colloquium Series. This year's series is called "Climate and Capitalism." The industrial revolution liberated human beings from the cycles of nature — or so it once seemed. It turns out that greenhouse gases, a natural byproduct of coal- and petroleum-burning industries, lead to global warming, and that we are now locked into a long warming trend: a trend that will raise sea levels, enhance the occurrence of extreme weather events, and ultimately could threaten food supplies and other vital supports for modern civilization. This podcast series examines the cultural and political-economic dimensions of our ongoing, slow-moving climate crisis. We engage experts from a variety of fields and disciplines to ask questions about capitalism and the environment. How did we get into this mess? How bad is it? Where do we go from here? What sorts of steps might mitigate the damage — or perhaps someday reverse it? At stake are deep questions about humanity’s place in and relationship to nature — and what our systems of governance, production, and distribution might look like in the future.